About IMRoycer81

Richmond, Virginia, United States
Thanks for visiting! I'm a civil litigator at KPMLaw. I attended Cornell where I swam IM and Breastroke. In 2007 I filled the void of swimming retirement with triathlon. In my first tri I thought, "holy sh*t this is painful" and "when can I do it again?" Things escalated quickly and my first half was Augusta 2009 and my first full was Louisville 2011. Since 2007 I've been chasing my dream of qualifying for Kona. Prior to September 2017 this blog focused on attempts (and failures) to achieve an elusive KQ. I got the monkey off my back in my 10th Ironman at Chattanooga. There is still much room to improve and I look forward to putting in the work to become a consistent podium finisher. In 2018 I have the privilege of racing for Team Every Man Jack and look forward to learning from a great group of guys while giving back to the triathlon community. I couldn't do any of this without my amazing family. They lift me up. I am lucky to train in a fantastic triathlon town with inspirational athletes. My job, training, and daughter keep me busy, but I update as often as I can. I'm always willing to share the knowledge I've picked up along the way. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

One Bad Stretch (with injury photos)

I thought I would devote some time to write about the recent run of bad luck I have been having.  To begin, I will rewind to July 3.  Everything was firing on all cylinders.  My training was right on track. My previous race (Jamestown Int'l) was a great success, my confidence was high, and I was excited for Rockett's Landing Int'l scheduled for the following weekend.  On the evening of the 3rd, I headed out after work for a ride with Hause on a route we have done a million times.  I was already looking forward to having the 4th off and taking advantage of the down time with a double run.  We were riding out in Goochland on Miller's lane and I was having a strong ride.  We had just come up a pretty steep hill and there was a small downhill section before a slight climb.  I was sitting up and riding in my big ring and I had just shifted to the easiest cog on my cassette when my drivetrain completely locked.  It happened so suddenly that I had no time to react.  One second I was pedaling up hill and the next second I was launched head first over my handle bars toward the asphalt.  I just remember thinking "oh f**k this is going to hurt" and it did.  I hit the pavement hard. I broke my fall with my right hand and the next thing to hit the pavement was the inside of my left elbow and side.  As I was on the pavement I went through a quick mental checklist of my body.  My first thought was "ok nothing life threatening", my second thought was that my wrist was broken and my Ironman was going up in smoke, and third was whether I had destroyed my bike. 

About this time I looked down at my left elbow and no sooner had I looked down when blood started pouring down the inside of my arm.  I am pretty squeamish when it comes to blood and I quickly became light headed.  Not to mention it was pretty hot and I was probably a bit dehydrated which didn't help matters.  There was a nasty wound on the inside of my left elbow.  I had taken a golf ball size divot of skin out of my arm and it was really deep.  At this point I was pretty out of it.  I sat in the street for a few minutes trying to gather myself.  I was able to get over to the side of the road and sit in the grass.  The next 20-30 minutes is kind of a blur.  I think I was in shock a bit.  I kept asking Hause if I had hit my head because I was so woozy.  He kept reassuring me that I did not and flagged down a car for help.  He was able to find a nice gentleman who went home to get his truck and came back to drive us and our bikes back to our cars.  We also happened to run across another cyclist who was on some type of long distance east coast cycling journey and he was fully stocked with first aid.  He was able to render some assistance and I was able to at least cover my elbow.  As I was sitting in the grass I was taking stock of my injuries and wondering whether this meant my season was over.  I had road rash on my left leg and up my side, the large wound on my elbow and my wrist was definitely hurting.  I was hoping that I had just sprained the wrist but deep down I think I knew that it was broken.  It took me about 15 minutes or so before I got my head on straight.  We had a 15 minute drive back to the car.  When we pulled into the parking lot we just happened to drive by my buddy Moose Herring who is an orthopaedic surgeon (and has really worked to help save my season.  I truly appreciate everything he has done for me.  I owe him more thanks than I could ever dole out).  I flagged down Moose and told him about the crash and he told me that he would go with me to his on call facility.  At this point I was feeling okay enough to drive and I drove myself to Ortho On Call.

Moose took x-rays of my elbow and wrist.  The elbow was negative but the wrist x-ray showed a probable scaphoid fracture.  Unfortunately with scaphoid fractures you often have to wait a week for a second x-ray to truly determine whether it is broken.  Moose set my hand in a cast and immobilized my thumb.  He irrigated and debrided my elbow and stitched it up as best he could.  He also cleaned and dressed the rest of my wounds.  I honestly don't know where I would be today if I hadn't gotten such first class care right after the accident.  Fortunately (or unfortunately) I banged my elbow so hard that my ulnar nerve went numb.  I had no feeling from my elbow to my wrist which was good while he was cleaning out the grit but has been quite annoying over the last few weeks.  It has been 26 days since the crash and my elbow is still pretty numb and swollen.  I suspect the bone bruise and nerve issue are going to take months to resolve.  

Moose told me that I had to take the next five days off and we would re-evaluate the situation after the weekend.  Over the weekend he cleared me to start running and riding the trainer.  Unfortunately the open wounds and uncertainty about my wrist were going to keep me out of the water for quite some time.  Over the next few days Moose really went out of his way and volunteered his personal time to clean and re-dress my wounds several times.  He also set me up for a follow up x-ray and got me an appointment with his hand/wrist specialist, Dr. Glowacki.  Unfortunately, the follow up x-ray showed that the scaphoid was clearly broken.  This left me with two options, eight weeks in a cast or surgery.  With Ironman 8 weeks away, a cast was not an option.  Surgery seemed like my best option to get back to training and save my Ironman dreams.  Additionally, Dr. Glowacki was going to irrigate and debride my elbow again and close it up to get me back in the water as quick as possible.  Surgery was set and I went under the knife the day after my birthday.

Surgery was pretty uneventful and went smoothly.  It was amazing how little pain I had after surgery. The weirdest part of the procedure was that they did a nerve block on my right arm.  This basically cut off all feeling and control to my arm and I essentially had a dead arm for 24 hours.  Definitely a weird sensation.  Dr. G is a real miracle worker.  In fact I only had to take one day off after surgery and I was back running and riding that weekend.  I was on my bike riding outdoors in West Creek and did 50 miles that Sunday.  I am also now the proud owner of a permanent metal pin in my wrist.  I was surprised how big that sucker is when you see it on x-ray.

I have been able to get back on track after a couple weeks of lesser volume.  Last week I was finally able to get back in the water.  I was concerned that I would have lost my feel for the water since I had been out for 3 weeks.  Fortunately I did not feel too bad and the swim seems to be picking back up quickly.  I had a huge volume week this week and have one more monster week in final preparation for Louisville.

During the time I was forced to ride loops in the controlled environment of West Creek, Hause went back to the scene of the crash and snapped this photo.  It shows the puddle of blood from my arm on the pavement.  The crazy thing is that he took the picture like two weeks after the crash after multiple thunderstorms and it was still prominent on the blacktop.

This week my bad luck streak has continued.  On Wednesday evening, me and a buddy of mine got our bikes locked up on a left turn and we ended up landing on top of each other.  Fortunately we were both going very slow and neither of us was seriously injured.  I just have a couple more bruises to add to the collection.  I am thankful we are both okay as he has Ironman Mont Tremblant in 3 weeks and I have Louisville in 4 weeks.  As if this little scare wasn't enough, I had another issue on my Saturday long ride.  Yesterday Hauserman and I had a five and a half hour ride.  We had gotten up early to beat the heat and were riding strong.  We were 65 miles in and cruising at a great clip.  We were on pace to ride 112 miles in 5:13 which is sixteen minutes faster than I did at the race last year!!! Unfortunately my Karma just continues to be off.  As I traveled up a hill, I had a repeat malfunction that caused my first crash.  My drivetrain shifted the chain into the wheel again...wtf!!!!  This time I was able to slam on the breaks and got off the bike before sustaining any further injury.  Needless to say after we got back to civilization, my first trip was to the bike shop.

At this point I look like a walking train wreck and all I can do is laugh.  I have got scabbed over road rash, huge bruises, and a brace on my wrist.  I look like the walking wounded.  But through these little incidents I have chosen to keep my head down and keep grinding.  I am not going to let any of this sh*t get in the way of my goals.  I am not going to allow any of it to be an excuse to not give my best in training or on race day.  If things work out like I am hoping it will just make for a better story.  For now, I will continue to put hay in the barn until the big day.  I know I have put in a ton of quality training this year and have not cut any corners.  Because of that I will be able to live with 9:45 or 13 hours because I know I couldn't have done more in training.  I am going to spend the next few weeks fine tuning things and I look forward to racing on August 26.  Thanks again to Moose and Dr. G for helping to fix me and keep my dream alive.  Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Jamestown International Race Report...My first (and hopefully last) Duathlon!

Total Time- 1:48:32, 2nd Overall, 1st M 30-34

Jamestown International is a new race in Setup Events Virginia Triathlon Series.  I signed up for this race on a whim.  There are not many Olympic distance races locally and I wanted to take the opportunity to squeeze in another Olympic prior to Rocketts Landing and Louisville.  Even though the race was in Williamsburg, I was fortunate in that my little sis lives in Williamsburg and kind enough to let me crash at her place so I wouldn't have to drive to Williamsburg at the ass crack of dawn on race morning.

My coach was not pleased with my decision to race as it was out of town and I was pretty fried the previous weekend at the Tavern Triathlon.  He objected strenuously to my participation and gave it his best shot to convince me to bail.  While I certainly understood and appreciated his position, I ultimately decided to race.  I really weighed the pros and cons of racing and it was a difficult decision.  For me it ultimately boiled down to keeping this fun.  Training for Ironman is extremely difficult and time consuming.  Everyone that knows me knows I truly love suffering on a daily basis, but as much as I love training, I love racing even more.  It has been especially fun this year climbing up the local rankings and seeing huge time improvements at various local races.  I don't want triathlon to become an activity where my whole focus boils down to one Ironman each year with a laser focus on qualifying for Kona.  From a mental standpoint it helps me to break up the arduous periods of training with racing so I can chart my progress and compare my performances to previous years.  I also firmly believe that there are large benefits to racing on blown out legs (both physically and mentally).  I think these tired races give me additional mental toughness and will help prepare me for the inevitable dark periods of pain and suffering that necessarily arise during the course of an Ironman.  Despite our disagreement, I know that Coach Flanigan absolutely has my best interest at heart and is in my corner every step of the way.  Like every healthy relationship, we aren't going to agree 100% of the time but the most important thing to me is that Coach has my back.

On the night before the race we had some nasty thunderstorms roll through the area.  In fact when I woke up on race morning it was still thundering and lightning.  It was still raining and thundering when I arrived at the race site.  Upon arrival, I quickly learned that they had pushed the start time back 30 minutes because of the inclement weather and the race director was debating whether or not to cancel the swim.  Apparently the severe weather had blown the swim buoys out of the water and the weather was preventing the boats from going back out and setting them up again.  This really annoyed me because I have no desire to ever participate in a duathlon.  The idea of taking away my strength in the water and adding another run before the bike is not appealing to me so I held out hope that the swim would go forward as planned.  I decided that I would keep a positive attitude and roll with whatever happened.  I got my transition area set up, did a quick spin on my bike and got a decent run warm up in.

Shortly thereafter the announcement came that they were canceling the swim and we were shifting to a duathlon.  The swim would be replaced by a one mile run....shit.  I gave myself about 30 seconds to be pissed and then checked my attitude and got ready to race.  I have never done a duathlon and had no idea how to attack the race.  I decided I would be conservative on the first run because I knew the fast runners could only do so much damage in one mile and I was hoping I could make up much of the difference on the bike.
Run 1- 6:52, 1.10 Miles, 6:14/Mile
I was pretty conservative on the first run.  I figured that the thrill of the race would carry me to a decent split without much effort and I was right.  I also expected that many of the racers would be overly aggressive on the first run.  I decided to run at my own speed and let everyone else do their thing.  It was certainly different coming into T1 in 41st place as opposed to the advantage that I usually have coming out of the water with my strong swim background.

T1- 1:00
My first transition was actually pretty good.  I was able to get my run shoes off and into my bike gear quickly and efficiently.  I will say that the transition is certainly easier in a duathlon in that I was not soaking wet and muddy.

Bike- 57:57, 23.9 Mph, Avg Power 308, 2nd OA bike split
I felt pretty great on the bike despite being on tired legs.  I rode 80 miles the day before in some pretty brutal heat.  The bike course is dead flat with only one rise in elevation as you go over the Chickahominy River.  I passed a huge group of cyclists pretty early in the bike course and ended up doing the vast majority of the ride alone.  I kept thinking there was more cyclists up the road but when I got to the turn around I realized that I was out front.  I came to find out later that there was a handful of really fast runners that were led off the bike course by the lead moto.  This actually bummed me out a bit and I think it would have pushed me a bit harder to try and run them down on the back half of the bike if they hadn't been led astray.  With a flat course my whole focus was on maintaining a great aero position and producing consistent power numbers.  I think I was successful on both fronts and was very pleased with my bike split.

T2- 1:00
I was pretty pleased with T2.  Generally I suck at transitions but I was in and out of this one fairly quickly as well.  A quick back into my run gear and I was the first athlete out on the run course for the International distance race.

Run 2- 10K, 41:43, 6:43/mile
The run course was also dead flat.  There wasn't much shade and it was very hot and muggy.  I was definitely suffering on the run.  I also found there were not enough water stations out on the run course.  There were a few points when I found myself really needing ice water to lower my core temperature but it was nowhere to be found.  The middle section of the run course took us through some type of trail system which was a nice change of pace from a traditional road run.  At this point I knew I was out front and my whole goal was maintaining a lead on the stronger runners.  There was a long stretch before we hit a turn around and I could gauge how much of a lead I had.  At the turn around, I realized I had a decent lead but knew it was evaporating quickly and would likely be gone by the time we got to the finish line.  This is typically my least favorite part of every triathlon (running for my life with the knowledge that the stronger runners are closing like a freight train).  I just did my best to focus on my splits and hoped it would be enough to keep me out front.  A fast Endorphin athlete named Parker Spencer caught me in the final home stretch.  He told me that he was one of the cyclists that had been led off course and he had been disqualified.  He told me congratulations and backed off so I could cross the line first.  It was a really magnanimous gesture and a great show of sportsmanship which I really appreciated.  Parker Spencer is a class act.

At the end of the day my performance was good enough to net me second overall.  I was obviously pleased with this result as it was my first (and hopefully only) duathlon.  It was more fun than I was expecting and I had a good experience.  I had a great time and was glad I did the race.  It was nice to spend some time with my sister and her fiancĂ© and my mom and dad.  We had a particularly delicious and fattening breakfast after the race.  I am happy that I decided to do this race because I had a nasty bike crash a few days later which is going to prevent me from racing Rocketts (bike crash blog post to follow).  Thanks for reading!